Yorktown Town Board: Electric-Vehicle Charging Stations Explored
YORKTOWN, N.Y. – A plan to bring publicly accessible electric-vehicle charging stations to the town at no cost to local taxpayers is being explored by the Town Board.
FLO, a company that designs and manufactures such stations, made its pitch to the board at last week’s work session. The company identified the Brian J. Slavin Aquatic Facility and the John C. Hart Memorial Library as the ideal locations for them.
They would be Level 2 stations, meaning they provide about 25 miles of range per hour plugged in, said Rose Lenoff, a project manager with FLO. Electric vehicle owners wouldn’t likely use them to get a full battery charge, but would rather plug their cars in while running errands.
Each location would have Level 2 stations, which start around $1,800 each, Lenoff said. However, she said, “There is an incredible amount of rebate money up for grabs for municipalities throughout the state of New York to provide these services.”
One such rebate is available through Con Ed, which has been known to cover up to 90 percent of the cost of stations built in its coverage area. New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) also provides rebates, Lenoff said.
The charging stations would belong to Yorktown, which would collect any revenue generated from them, minus 10 percent for FLO. The town is able to set prices to use the stations. As an example, Lenoff said, the town could charge one dollar for the first hour with a dollar increase for every subsequent hour.
The town would also be responsible for buying the electricity from Con Ed.
Councilman Ed Lachterman wondered whether providing this service might be considered an illegal gift of public funds. But Town Supervisor Matt Slater said the intent is to at least break even.
“It’s not really that we’re subsidizing it,” Slater said. “We’re just providing the opportunity and technology for people to charge their own cars.
“We’re trying to set this up so that there is no cost to the town,” the supervisor added.
For the first year, FLO would provide parts and labor. After that, the town could purchase FLO’s warranty program at $50 per year per station. The stations have about a five- to seven-year lifespan, Lenoff said.
“If we can bring EV chargers into our town for free, then I think it’s a win for everyone,” said Swarnav Pujari, chair of the town’s Climate Smart Communities Task Force.
FLO’s stations would be universal. Unlike Tesla’s, for instance, which are proprietary technology and only work with Tesla vehicles.
The stations would not have credit-card readers because they would be exposed to the elements and likely to malfunction as a result. Instead, users would likely have to download a smartphone app. Or they could call the phone number on the station and talk to an operator.
Despite FLO’s presentation, the Town Board would have to competitively bid out the project to install the stations.
Hallocks Mill cut-through
When it comes to correcting a popular cut-through road in Yorktown, the Town Board is learning that every action has a reaction.
For motorists traveling from Route 35 to the Taconic State Parkway, or vice versa, using Hallocks Mill Road shaves about 1,500 feet off of their commute. The fact that Hallocks Mill is a residential road with speedbumps is irrelevant to navigation systems, which are designed to get motorists from Point A to Point B in the quickest amount of time. So, the “shortcut” is a highly used one, much to the chagrin of some neighborhood residents. According to traffic data, between 250 and 300 cars use the road every hour during peak hours.
Several months ago, the Town Board tasked Phil Greeley, a traffic consultant, with exploring solutions to this problem. Last week, before revealing them to the board, Greeley warned that none of the half-dozen solutions he came up with were perfect. In fact, many would create traffic issues elsewhere.
For instance, he said, diverting traffic away from Hallocks Mills would add more traffic to the heavily congested intersection of routes 35, 118, and 202.
One option was to add more speed humps and signage barring commercial traffic on Hallocks MIll. But the existing speed humps have hardly served as a deterrent, leaving Greeley skeptical that adding more is the answer. “That’s really the simplest option,” Greeley said. “But [it] will have probably little effect.”
The next two options involved making Hallocks Mill a one-way road in either direction. This solution only eliminates commuter traffic in either the morning or evening, and also makes it more difficult for residents to navigate their own neighborhood, Greeley said.
Other options involved adding a partial or full road closure to the middle of Hallocks Mill Road near Laurel Court. Doing so, however, would likely divert more traffic to other neighborhood roads, Greeley said.
“No matter what you do,” Greeley told the board, “you’re going to have an effect on some other roadway. That’s the bottom line.”
Highway Superintendent Dave Paganelli said that, in similar situations, residents leading the charge are often in the “vocal minority.” To that end, he said, the board should be careful to not proceed before surveying all neighborhood residents.
“This is their neighborhood,” Paganelli said. “They should be the ones to decide it.”
Ken Rundle, superintendent of the Water Department, sought the board’s approval to go out to bid on a cement relining project for sewer lines on Strawberry Road, Hanover Street, Front Street, and a portion of Underhill Avenue. Strawberry Road would be done first in 2021, followed by the other three in 2022.
However, with construction costs rising in most sectors, Rundle thought it prudent to lock in a contractor now to do the work.
Relining, as the name suggests, is the process of reinforcing an older pipe with a new lining. Strawberry Road’s water main is “very heavily tuberculated,” Rundle said.
The Town Board, in its 2021 budget, included $600,000 for relining.
Rundle said he would like to present his relining plan to residents once Town Board meetings are held in person again. Slater said it’s important for residents to understand why this is needed.
“Why are we going to be spending millions of dollars, when all is said and done, to reline these pipes?” Slater said. “Well, when you see what the water pipes look like when the water’s going through them… I think the public is going to be thanking their lucky stars that we recognized this as a significant issue and that we’re trying to get back on track with that regular maintenance of water infrastructure. Because we want to make sure the residents have clean water to drink.”
The Town Board also discussed residency requirements for town department heads. Some of the unelected positions, such as comptroller or town attorney, have already been exempted from this requirement, but many positions still require them to be filled by Yorktown residents.
The board was in agreement that this did not make sense, but changing the law would require approval from the state legislature. Town Attorney Adam Rodriguez was already at work on a proposed resolution.
“This will allow us to hire people from a larger pool of candidates,” said Councilman Vishnu Patel.